Viral Stories of the Week: July 17
Jul 23, 2023
What’s up tastynation! Welcome to this week’s edition of Weekly Dose! Each week, I recap the top stories that I covered on Daily Dose. If you missed any eps of Daily Dose you can catch up on them here.
I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world. Life’s fantastic when it’s plastic.
Let’s get to the recap!
China reports Q2 GDP: You down with GDP? Yeah, you know me. China (FXI) reported second-quarter gross domestic product grew by 6.3% from a year ago, missing expectations. That 6.3% print marked a 0.8% pace of growth from the first quarter, slower than the 2.2% quarter-on-quarter pace recorded in the first three months of the year. China ended its Covid-19 controls in December, but a full economic recovery has been slow to materialize. Youth unemployment also remains high. No wonder no one is working, Chinese tourists are flocking to “Flaming Mountain” to see a giant thermometer display temperatures as high as 176 Fahrenheit. You do you, China. Me? I’m gonna be chillaxin on my living room floor under full A/C.
United pilots reach labor deal: The skies just got a little bit friendlier as United Airlines pilots reached a deal with United Airlines (UAL) giving the pilots up to a 40% raise, according to the Air Line Pilots Association. The pilots and United management have been in negotiations for over 4 years. Wow, I guess you can get a man to change if you’re patient enough. Hang in there, ladies (and fellas). But United’s labor deal was so juicy and sweet, that it has thrown a wrench into the labor negotiations by American Airlines (AAL) pilots who are also hoping to ratify their labor contract. Also, United might need to set some money aside to prevent their emergency slides from falling out of the sky and into people’s yards.
America falls out of love with ice cream: I scream, you scream, we all scream into the deep, dark, existential void. There is no joy, there is no hope, we ignore the dulcet tinkle tones of the ice cream man. There is nothing that can fill the choco taco shaped hole in my heart. Sorry to be so emo, but according to the USDA, Americans consumption of regular dairy ice cream has been falling for years. Did you know, in 1986 the average American consumed 18 pounds of ice cream a year! Um, why didn’t you help us “just say no” to that, Nancy Regan? But by 2021 we’re consuming a paltry 12 pounds of frozen solace a year. Health concerns as well as environmental impact are named as reasons why more Americans are cutting back. Or, maybe it’s because they keep coming out with whack-a-doodle ice cream flavors.
Goldman Sachs cuts probability of recession: Goldman Sachs' (GS) chief economist Jan Hatzius said the bank was cutting its probability that a U.S recession will start in the next 12 months to 20% from an earlier 25% forecast. We did it! Where is that Mission Accomplished banner that Bush 2.0 used? USA! USA! Perhaps Goldman was using the very popular “look over there” strategy with some good news about an economic recession to shift the focus away from their dismal Q2 earnings. Well, whatever the reason I just hope that DJ Jazzy Solomon keeps working the 1s and 2s and dropping fresh beats, like he dropped $1 billion in commercial real estate losses.
Warren urges investigation into Tesla over Twitter ties:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is urging the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Tesla (TSLA) and its board of directors over possible “conflicts of interest, misappropriation of corporate assets, and other negative impacts to Tesla shareholders” related to CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. Apparently, you can’t just mix-and-match your employees from one business to another when you get pranked into buying Twitter for $44 Billion. Oopsie! Tesla’s board of directors was also under scrutiny this week for paying themselves a butt load of money and then when called to account to justify the outsized compensation, they decided to return $735 million.
Russia axes landmark grain deal: Grain, grain, grain ... grain of foooooooools. Russia said it had suspended a humanitarian corridor to deliver key Ukrainian grains to global markets, just hours before it was set to expire. The Black Sea Grain Initiative was set up to abate a global food crisis after Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Illya Spivak has been writing some wonderful coverage of the grain markets and Russia. You can read his thoughts here.
Update on Nasdaq rebalance: On July 14 Nasdaq (QQQ) released to clients the data revealing the adjustments index members will receive in the rebalance. Facebook (META) will get a downward revision alongside Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOGL), Nvidia (NVDA), Amazon (AMZN), and Tesla (TSLA). For the planned adjustment, the seven biggest constituents would see their combined representation drop to 43.7% from 55.1%, according to a Nasdaq spokesperson. Microsoft and Nvidia are expected to experience the largest reductions. Apple will reclaim the top spot, with a relatively small decrease of one percentage point to 11.5%. The Nasdaq rebalance is a consequence of Big Tech’s relentless rebound in the markets this year. The rebalance is due to take effect July 24.
Microsoft surges on AI subscription news: While your first sample may have been free, your next hit of AI is gonna cost you. Microsoft said it would charge at least 53% more to access new artificial intelligence features in its widely used office software. Microsoft said customers would pay $30 per user, per month, for its AI copilot in Microsoft 365, which promises to draft emails in Outlook, pen documents in Word and make virtually all an employee's data accessible via the prompt of a chatbot. Yeah, but when is Clippy going to become sentient and help me stage a coup at my workplace? In other AI news, Meta said in a blog post that Microsoft is its “preferred partner” for its Llama 2 software, which is available for free for companies and researchers. So, save the drama for your llama, LLMs are open source and are ready to party!
Housing market remains tight: If you managed to sell your house this year, congratulations you’re in the 1%! Just 1% of existing homeowners sold their houses in the first half of 2023, helping to drive the number of available homes for sale to the lowest level ever. Just 14 out of every 1,000 existing homes were sold during the first half of the year. Homeowners who locked in super low mortgage rates have been reluctant to give up those sweet loans and open newer ones at higher rates. In similar news, the dating market is also facing a similar slump with just 14 out of every 1,000 men being fit for adult relationships. Sad news all around.
Taco Tuesday is now up for grabs: The "Taco Tuesday" trademark dispute between Taco Bell and Taco John's has ended. The term Taco Tuesday has actually been trademarked for more than 40 years by Taco John's, a fast-food chain from Wyoming. The company announced that it would abandon the United States Patent and Trademark Office registration for the popular term. CEO Jim Creel said in a statement that paying millions to defend the trademark didn't "feel like the right thing to do." Poor Taco John’s! Those big bullies over at Taco Bell forced this decision instead of going into a protracted legal battle. I hope you’re happy, Taco Bell, the nacho cheese is all over your hands after this ruling. Also, if you’ve never had Taco John’s potato oles you’re missing out.
Tesla Reports Earnings: Tesla (TSLA) posted an all-time high quarterly revenue, but the operating margin dropped to 9.6%. It looks like the spate of deep discounts had a mixed result on Tesla’s bottom line. The discounts did get cars out the door, but it obliterated the margins Tesla generated and the stock dipped after the news was reported. On the earnings call Tesla also announced that they would be licensing their Full Self-Driving (FSD) software to other auto manufacturers and OEMs. No word on whether Musk was asked about his dick measuring aspirations with Mark Zuckerberg during the call.
Netflix grows subscribers but lowers outlook: Netflix (NFLX) stock sank more than 8% Thursday after the company announced they had added 5.9 million new subscribers, a successful outcome of their password crackdown initiative. The company said revenue will accelerate in the second half of the year as it sees “the full benefits” of its password-sharing crackdown and steady growth in its ad-supported plan, but failed to provide specifics on how much that revenue was going to grow, which I guess underwhelmed Wall Street. Honestly, it's hard to tell how much the Street is going to hate something but the downward move in Netflix took the Nasdaq along with it. Also, as someone who has been forced to now pay for her own Netflix, I say, “See you in hell, Netflix.” Netflix also announced they were getting rid of their cheapest ad-free tier so good news for consumers all around.
Kim Khardashian’s Skims is worth $4 billion: The mega influencer has done it again. The latest round of funding for her shapewear company, Skims, has raised $270 million, valuing her company at $4 billion. The juggernaut valuation now has the street talking about a possible IPO. Go on, girl! Who knew you could build a $4B empire on whatever this is. $52! Yeah, I want the tops of my boobs to be covered but I want a weird and inexplicable sunburn in the center of my cleavage. Oooh, it also comes in neon green! I’ll take two!
Fed launches FedNow instant payment service: The Federal Reserve launched its FedNow instant-payments service which will provide a faster flow of cash for businesses and individuals. Whether it’s providing instant access to paychecks, allowing for last-minute bill payments or sending government payments out to individuals, the system is expected to improve the flow of money through the U.S. economy. I hope they make a 90s era TV ad for this with Shaq singing with a cartoon lion. “Want your money fast? Get FedNow! No credit check at FedNow!” I’m available for marketing consulting. Big Banks like JP Morgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) have already signed on to the service.
Blackstone reaches $1 trillion in assets: Blackstone (BX) said it became the first manager of alternative investments (such as private equity and real estate) to reach $1 trillion in assets. It then followed that amazing achievement by announcing their second-quarter distributable earnings dropped 39% amid a slump in asset sales. But, um, no need to pay attention to that last part, just focus on the big headline. What’s that? Oh, they also announced net profit from asset sales plunged 82% to $388.4 million from $2.2 billion in the year-ago period, as higher interest rates, sticky inflation and economic uncertainty have weighed on mergers and acquisitions. Man, you guys are really crushing it.
Barbenheimer could jolt a soft box office: Blockbuster films, ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ opened this weekend and “Barbie” is expected to tally upwards of $140 million in ticket sales and “Oppenheimer” set to grab as much as $60 million. The twin forces could revive what has been an unusually slow summer movie season. Theater stocks like AMC (AMC) could see a nice bounce. In other movie news. AMC announced it was nixing its very bad idea to charge more for better movie seats. I’m not sure I will see both movies, but I am definitely excited to see the ‘Barbie’ movie. Both films are getting excellent reviews.
See ya next week!
Vonetta Logan has more than a decade of markets experience and has been a trader for five years. She is an on-air personality, creative writer and news correspondent at tastylive, She appears Monday-Friday on Daily Dose and contributes to Luckbox Magazine. @vonettalogan
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